Schrader Finishes 35Th At Rock

Ken Schrader and the “M&M’s”® Racing Team refused to give up on Sunday. The “M&M’s”® car battled a tight handling condition for most of the day, survived damage in a multi-car accident and looked poised to bring home a top-15 finish until the motor expired with nine laps remaining in the race.

Due to a strong qualifying effort, the “M&M’s”® Racing Team started from the front row – the outside pole – on Sunday afternoon. The caution flag waved on lap 18, and the “M&M’s”® Racing Team pitted for four tires and fuel. Schrader returned to the track in second spot following a quick effort by the pit crew.

By lap 50, the “M&M’s”® car had fallen back to fifth place. Schrader reported that the car was tight, but he was able to keep the car fighting at the front of the field until the team elected to pit under the green flag at lap 101. By the time green flag pit stops cycled through, the “M&M’s”® car was sitting in 9th place.

Schrader remained in the top 10, but he reported that the car needed to be a “little freer.” When the caution flag flew at lap 145, the pit crew put on four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment.

At lap 156, the “M&M’s”® car got caught in a multi-car accident on the backstretch. Schrader was tapped, and the car spun out – flattening the right side of the car. Luckily, the damage was mostly cosmetic. Schrader immediately brought the No. 36 into the pits, but there was some confusion and he exited without any work being done on the machine.

Schrader brought the “M&M’s”® car back into the pits a second time for right side tires, and a third time for left side tires. While the clean-up continued, Schrader brought the car in a fourth time so that the team could make some additional adjustments to loosen up the car and to mend the slightly damaged front end. After furious pit work during four pit stops, the “M&M’s”® car was in 19th place and still on the lead lap.

The caution flew again at lap 179, and the “M&M’s”® team elected to pit for two tires to gain track position. Schrader returned to the track in ninth place. Over the next 50 laps, the “M&M’s”® car continued to battle a tight handling condition, and the No. 36 fell to 15th place. When the caution waved at lap 230, the pit crew went to work – taking on four tires and fuel and making both a track bar and wedge adjustment.

The “M&M’s”® car began to slowly make its way through lap traffic and back up into the top 10. Schrader narrowly avoided a second multi-car collision on the backstretch at lap 257. After all the adjustments, now the No. 36 was a little too loose to Schrader’s liking. The team made another track bar adjustment, and the “M&M’s”® car returned to the track in 14th spot.

Schrader was happy with the car as it stayed in the top 15 over the next 100 laps. When the caution waved at lap 364, Schrader reported that the “M&M’s”® car had gotten too loose over the course of the race. The team made an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment, took on two tires and added fuel in an attempt to gain track position for the final portion of the event. Schrader exited pit road in ninth, but the car began sliding back through the field.

All the team’s hard work in the pits went to the wayside when Schrader reported that the engine had blown. The “M&M’s”® Racing Team finished the event in 35th spot.

"I hate that we blew up, but we were lucky that we got out of that back-straightaway deal,” Schrader said. “We were decent before that deal and I think we would have at least finished on the lead lap, probably even in the top 10."

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